J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Union”

New Review for A Rebel Among Us

I recently received another amazing review for my novel, A Rebel Among Us. This is the third book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, US Review of Books, for your fantastic review!

A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series Book 3)
by J. D. R. Hawkins
Westwood Books Publishing
book review by Mihir Shah


“The anguish in her eyes broke David’s heart. He gazed down at her and, as reassurance, gave her a sorrowful smile.”


How one acts in the face of adversity is often a true reflection of one’s character. This is no different for the protagonist, Anna Brady, a teenager who harbors a soldier from the Confederate Army as the Civil War is reaching its most pivotal point. Despite fears of being labeled complicit in a crime, Anna finds herself mesmerized by Alabama native David Summers. More than that, though, she recognizes that he is near certain death after being wounded at Gettysburg, and if she doesn’t help, his blood will be on her. As the story unfolds, Hawkins does a masterful job of using the Civil War as a stage to highlight the torturous choices faced by those who lived through these times.


Centered around the dichotomy between love and war, the entirety of the premise revolves around a forbidden love story that clashes head-on with the throes of war and egos. Using strong character development to showcase the instant bonds that Anna and her two younger sisters, Abigail and Maggie, form with Summers’ horse, Renegade, the author does a commendable job of keeping the plot flowing with energy. The work is largely driven by the developing relationship betwwen Anna and David (a teenager blossoming into a woman and a perceived traitor to his country) and the inevitable chaos that will ensue when the truth comes out.

The antagonist of the story, Stephen Montgomery, ironically a Union sergeant, is a thorn in the side of Anna and David’s love story. But in reality, the thematic question that the author tests to its limit is at what point and at what cost can love still reign supreme? That internal battle pits Anna and David against their individual duties. For David, the burden of filling the void left behind by his father and supporting his family weigh heavily against his desire to be with Anna, while Anna is mired in caring for her sisters after the loss of her father.


With one obstacle after another continually in their way, the couple’s resolve is almost endlessly tested, whether it is by Anna’s aunt, Sarah, who encourages David to understand the ramifications of his and Anna’s union, or Maggie, the sister who refuses to accept David. In the story, readers are exposed to the perspective of the Confederacy, how they would have viewed President Lincoln, and the ruthlessness of Union soldiers toward captive soldiers. As historical fiction, Hawkins’ work is especially intriguing because of the raw, authentic settings and tension that is being created. Conjuring the palpable feeling of a nation divided amongst itself is downright harrowing, and the contentious dynamic between Stephen Montgomery and David Summer is simply the epitome of that.


While Anna and David are front and center, numerous other storylines are simultaneously heartwarming and gut-wrenching, such as Claudia and Abigail’s expression of childhood innocence and exuberance and the genuine friendship formed between David and Patrick, a neighbor in whom Anna confided wholeheartedly. Above all else, what makes this story so intriguing is the purity of a love story grounded in the faith of the human spirit and unwavering resolve, come what may. Acceptance, or the lack thereof, is a strong theme that resonates universally in Hawkins’ work. Against the backdrop of the Civil War, the duality of war and love create a riveting environment that holds the reader’s attention from cover to cover.


RECOMMENDED by the US Review
©2022 All Rights Reserved • The US Review of Books

Another Awesome Review for A Rebel Among Us

I just received this review from Hollywood Book Reviews. Thank you so much for the amazing review!

Title: A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War (A Renegade Series) Author: J.D.R. Hawkins 

Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing 

ISBN: 978-1648030796 

Pages: 493 

Genre: Romantic Action & Adventure / War & Military Action Fiction Reviewed by: Jack Chambers 

Hollywood Book Reviews 

One of the things that people rarely ever think about or consider when discussing the impact of war throughout history is the immediate aftermath. There are many books written about the long-term effects war has on things like the economy, a nation’s power on the world stage, and politics as a whole, but the study of how we as individuals interact with one another in the wake of war and the mental struggle which occurs with those who fought in wars is rarely given enough attention. The need to advocate for peace in the wake of war is essential, and as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.”

In author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War, the author brings readers back to the popular A Renegade Series with the third book of the franchise. The protagonist, David Summers, finds himself in a whole other world when he wakes up from his injury-induced slumber. After his dreams of chivalry and heroism are quashed by the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg, a wounded David and his horse are taken in by four sisters in enemy territory who help restore him to health. Deserted by his Confederate brothers in arms, David struggles between his desire to avenge his father’s death and the love he begins to feel for the oldest sister, Anna. As she presents him an interesting offer, he must also contend with his identity being revealed lest he be labeled a traitor by the Union while also coming face to face with Anna’s longtime neighbor, now a Union soldier, who has been in love with her for years, and will stop at nothing to have her heart, even if it means having David arrested. 

The author crafted a truly beautiful, heartbreaking, and emotionally complex narrative. The balance struck between historical fiction and romance was eloquently written here, as the author brought enough of the historical setting and events happening around the cast of characters into their daily lives without sacrificing the personal conflicts or intimate developments that they made with one another. The concept of two very opposed sides of a bloody conflict such as this coming together to find common ground is something which feels more relevant than ever in our modern age, and the ability of the author to showcase all of the underlying causes of the conflict, and the lies and illusions that many average soldiers fell under from their leadership in the war made this story so fascinating to read. 

This is the perfect read for those who enjoy romantic stories, especially those set in a historical fiction setting and who enjoy, in particular, stories surrounding the American Civil War. As a fan of history, I was fascinated with the authors ability to get into each side’s perspective so equally and bring the setting and tone of the era to life so 

naturally, especially without sacrificing the natural character growth and story beats overall. Powerful, thought-provoking, and entertaining, author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War is the perfect historical fiction romance novel and a great new book in the A Renegade Series franchise. The rich dynamics that are presented between David and Anna especially are great to see, and how these very different groups of people find a way to work through their differences and find common ground in an era filled with untold violence and hatred is amazing to read.

Remembering the Battle of Shiloh

The following articles were written by a tour guide who works at the Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee. This being the 160th anniversary of the battle (April 6-7, 1862), I thought it only appropriate to share.

SHILOH TREE LINES
I re-found this postcard among my many saved pictures. This is of course the 2nd Tennessee Monument, just South of Shiloh Church, and the Louisiana Crescent Regiment monument on the Hamburg-Purdy Road, across from the Davis Wheatfield. I do not know what year this is. I was amazed by how far back the tree lines are here.

The 2nd Tennessee monument today sits in a fairly small field. The Crescent regiment marker has a tree line to within 10 feet of it. I know the tree lines at Shiloh were kept pretty close to correct up to World War II. The war sucked all the men into the army, or into war vital jobs. I understand the Park Service was somewhat gutted until the late 1940’s, and the tree lines at Shiloh were just left to grow, during the war, and up to about 1950 or so.

These look like colorized photos. Perhaps they had slightly, or largely, different backgrounds painted in? The Tennessee monument background looks fairly correct, showing Shiloh Branch back to the left.
Starke Miller
Miller Civil War Tours


THE LAST CONFEDERATE COUNTER CHARGE AT SHILOH, AND THE UNIVERSITY of MISSISSIPPI ALUMNI WHO LED IT
This is straight out of the book, Old Guard in Gray, which is a collection of biographies of Memphis, and Shelby County, Tennessee Confederate Veterans.


Late on the afternoon of April 7, which was the second day of the battle of Shiloh, the Confederate Army had been beaten and was in retreat. The wagons with the wounded were the last to get off the field, just South of the Shiloh church, at a small creek crossing at Shiloh Branch. There was only one small bridge there, and the wagons were bunched up there, trying to get away from the pursuing Union Army.


Confederate General Cheatham, seeing this, ordered the 38th Tennessee Infantry back to the top of the hill, and into the small cemetery around Shiloh Church. Colonel Looney of the 38th told General Cheatham that they could not do much because they averaged only one round of ammunition per man. General Cheatham told Looney to Crescent buy the wagons all the time that he could. The lieutenant colonel of the 38th Tennessee was Hugh D. Greer. He was an 1856 graduate of the University of Mississippi.


Some 3 to 400 hundred brave men of the 38th Tennessee, and several other regiments, spread across the church yard and cemetery, and out into the woods, determined to hold back, at least for a while, the Union pursuit. Those men formed in line of battle in a cemetery, waiting to die there, if need be, in order to save some of their friends. They fixed bayonets and waited.


They let the Union skirmishers practically walk on top of them, until the main Union troops came into sight. Then they raised up, fired one volley, and made a bayonet charge with a Rebel yell on the Union troops! It is said they drove those blue bellies nearly a quarter of a mile back to the crossroads area. Greer’s men were then able to form up, and retreat in good order, all the Confederate wagons having successfully gotten across the bridge to safety.


Hugh D. Greer, in his telling of this charge, stated that the colonel of the regiment, Colonel Looney, sat behind the line of battle on his horse, encouraging the boys the whole time! Lieutenant Colonel Greer apparently led the charge, was wounded in the head, and captured on the field. Greer may have had some feelings about the colonel not participating in the charge.


Colonel Looney was a Shiloh Battlefield Commissioner from 1895 to his death in 1899. Greer said that as a prisoner, Union General Sherman asked him why his men had only fired one round, and then made a bayonet charge. Greer told him the truth, that most of his men only had one round. Greer said Sherman grasped his hand warmly and shook it, congratulating him on being a member of such a gallant command.


Hugh D. Greer was exchanged from the Union prison Camp in the summer of 1862. He later became the colonel of the 38th Tennessee, and he survived the war. He was run over and killed by a train, at what was
Buntyn, Tennessee in 1899. Buntyn is now part of Memphis, and is the old train station near the University of Memphis. Greer was one of the 109 University of Mississippi students and alumni who fought at Shiloh, in 20 different southern regiments. I love them all. The University has turned out some brave, fine men.

If you ever go to Shiloh with me, I will stand with you there at Shiloh Church, in the small cemetery, and I will tell you this story, and just a few others.
Starke Miller
Miller Civil War Tours

(Articles courtesy of The Southern Comfort, publication of the Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans and the President Jefferson Davis chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, volume 46, Issue #4, April 2022 ed.)

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

Strange Encounters

With Halloween approaching, I thought I’d share a few bizarre experiences I’ve had in regard to the Civil War. As you know, many battlefields, houses, cemeteries, and ex-prisons are known to be haunted. There have been ghostly sightings in all of these places. The spirit of President Lincoln was actually seen in the White House by Grace Coolidge, Winston Churchill, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, to name a few. Scores of cemeteries are said to be haunted, as well as private homes like the Carnton Plantation outside of Nashville. And of course, every Civil War battlefield has a ghost or two.

I have personally been to a lot of these battlefields, and I can attest that, although I didn’t see actual apparitions, I could defiinitely feel a presence. Shiloh was very eerie, especially when we drove through it at night. It seemed as though there were tiny orbs flying around in the trees, and I was just waiting to catch a glimpse of a soldier running toward us holding a shotgun.

Another scary experience I had was at the reinactment of the Battle of Chickamauga. The reinactment was interesting in that the spectators were practically on the battlefield with the soldiers. It was a little too close for comfort! But the scariest thing was that the organizers of the event decided to put all the authors in a tent, and then they tethered a cow at the entrance of the tent. Talk about bizaare! Needless to say, the cow scared away most of the visitors, and it wasn’t even a ghost!

I’ll have to say that the most profound experience I’ve had in relation to the Civil War happened to me when I was in Virginia. The Grafitti House, located near Culpeper, was the sight of many battles, including the largest cavalry battle to take place on American soil, the Battle of Brandy Station. The Grafitti House was used as a field hospital. Both Union and Confederate soldiers stayed there, and while convelescing, they drew pictures on the walls. The pictures were later covered with wallpaper. It wasn’t until recently that the drawings and signatures were discovered, just before they were going to tear down the house. Numerous horseshoes have been found in the area, as well as bullets, and a bayonet was discovered inside the chimney. Now the Grafitti House is a tourist attraction. When I was there, I definitely felt a presence. I walked into one of the upstairs rooms and was suddenly overcome with an oppresive feeling of dread, so much so that I felt like I was going to pass out. As soon as I crossed the threshold into the hallway, the feeling instantly vanished. I can’t say what caused this feeling, but I’m sure someone else was there with us, someone unseen.

Treasure Hunting

It always fascinates me how people can manage to find amazing relics. When we visited Brandy Station and the Graffiti House several years ago, some of the locals told me about how they had almost demolished the old building, but then found invaluable drawings done by both Confederate and Union soldiers. The artwork had been hidden under wallpaper. Fortunately, it was discovered and the house was restored. It is now a museum. While they were restoring it, someone looked in the chimney and found an old bayonet. Amazing! Some of the locals told me how a neighbor had found so many horseshoes that he used them as a foundation for his driveway. What I wouldn’t do to have just one of those old horseshoes!

Graffiti House, Brandy Station, Virginia
Drawing inside Graffiti House

When we lived in Mississippi, several friends told me about how they would go out to where they knew armies had camped. They took their metal detectors and found all sorts of interesting things: from belt buckles to buttons to bullets and then some. One friend told us of how he had been plowing in his field and unearthed a sword in its scabbard. The scabbard was rusted, but the sword was just like brand new. What a find!

I have always wanted to add a cavalry sword to my collection, so I splurged and bought one off of Ebay. It is Confederate and doesn’t have any markings. These swords were called “wrist breakers” because they are so heavy and hard to wield. I don’t know much else about the sword and probably never will, since the seller didn’t know much either, except that it is an M1840 that he purchased at an antique arms show about 5-6 years ago in Virginia. Nevertheless, it’s pretty cool, and I have it displayed on the wall above my work station.

Several years ago, I also aquired this framed specimen at a United Daughters of the Confederacy convention in Richmond. The collection includes camp chest hardware, an R.R. seal, a button back, a shoe buckle, and miscellaneous brass. These items were supposedly excavated from central Virginia from Civil War camps and battlefields. The description is a bit vague, but still interesting.

I would love for you to share any treasures you have discovered. It is always enthralling to discover these artifacts and bring history to life. I’d also like to know how you found your treasures, so please, share away!

Here’s to the Irish!

March is Irish heritage month, and because I’m part Irish, I feel very compassionate about my ancestors and what they had to go through. They risked their lives to be free of English tyranny, escape starvation in their beautiful, native country, and sail across the Atlantic to an unknown existence based solely on here say. They arrived in America to ridicule and rampant discrimination. This country has a rich Irish history due to their stamina and determination, not to mention their wonderful sense of humor. Many Irishmen fought on both sides during the Civil War. Some were recruited fresh off the boat, while others enlisted by their own design. The famous Irish Brigade still exists today, and many Irish fought for the Southern side as well. Here is one example.

images

Predominantly Irish Regiment

A predominantly Irish regiment, over 1,000 strong, the 6th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry was raised in New Orleans just after the state had seceded. It was organised by June of 1861 at Camp Moore and went on to become one of the hardest fighting regiments in the Confederate Army, seeing action in most of the major battles in the Eastern Theatre.

By War’s end, place names like Port Republic; Sharpsburg; Gettysburg; Spotsylvania & Petersburg (to name JUST a few) would adorn the colours of the regiment.

Headstone

By the time it surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865, the 6th LA. had fewer than 75 men in it’s ranks.

The ten companies that made up the 6th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry were designated thus:

Co. A- “Union & Sabine Rifles”: Co.B- “Calhoun Guards”; 

Co.C- “St. Landry Light Guards”; Co.D- “Tensas Rifles”; 

Co.E- “Mercer Guards”;

Co.F-“Irish Brigade, Company B”; Co.G- “Pemberton Guards”; 

Co. H- “Orleans Rifles”; 

Co.I- “Irish Brigade, Company A”; 

Co.K- “The Violet Guards”

The flag accompanying this post is the flag of Co.H, “The Orleans Rifles”, 6th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry.

flag

Article forwarded by Liam McAlister, (Irish in Blue & Gray, 1861-1865).

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 40, issue #8, August 2016 ed.)

 

The Name Change Game Goes On

I think it’s crazy that this is even a thing, but apparently, political correctness has affected (infected?) every aspect of American society. Now the military is getting in on the act, or is, at least, is under attack, and some branches are caving.

Lee

MILITARY BRANCHES SENDING “MIXED” ORDERS
The U.S. Army does not plan to change the names of several bases named after Confederate war heroes, despite a broader effort in some states to remove such tributes.
“We have no plans to rename any street or installation, including those named for Confederate generals,” an Army spokesperson told Task & Purpose. The service will instead continue with the existing names of many well known military bases and installations.
“It is important to note that the naming of installations and streets was done in a spirit of reconciliation, not to demonstrate support for any particular cause or ideology,” the U.S. Army spokesperson continued. “The Army has a tradition of naming installations and streets after historical figures of military significance, including former Union and Confederate general officers.”
Among the list of Army bases named after Confederate leaders are: Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Hood, Fort Lee, Fort Pickett, Fort Polk, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.
The Army’s statement comes immediately after U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered the removal of all Confederate flags and “paraphernalia” from Marine bases, effective immediately.
flag

Some Statues Are Still Sacred

Bless Mississippi for standing true to her flag and protecting her Confederate statues. I only wish other Southern states would hold as true to their honorable history as the Magnolia State. The destruction/desecration of Confederate monuments is alarming. How weird would it be if, sometime in the future, only statues of Union soldiers existed? What about the other half of the story?

ms-monument_1

MISSISSIPPI STATE MONUMENT TO BE REDEDICATED FOLLOWING SUCCESSFUL RESTORATION

Monument was originally dedicated in 1909 

Date: October 16, 2019 Contact: Scott Babinowich, NPS, (601) 642-6881 Contact: Bess Averett, Director of Friends of Vicksburg NMP(601) 831-6896 

On November 11, 2019 at 2:30 p.m., Vicksburg National Military Park, the State of Mississippi, and the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign will re- dedicate the Mississippi State Monument within Vicksburg National Military Park. 

Earlier this year, the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center completed an extensive restoration and repair project that included masonry repairs, testing of the monument’s lightning suppression system, and a thorough cleaning. Funds for the $75,000 project were donated by the State of Mississippi and championed by the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign. 

A brief ceremony will take place at the Mississippi State Monument, along Confederate Avenue within Vicksburg National Military Park, and feature several speakers who were involved in the project. More details will be announced closer to the event. 

The Mississippi State Monument was dedicated on November 12, 1909 and honors the sacrifice of Mississippi’s 32 infantry units, 17 artillery units, and 37 cavalry units which served in the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign of the Civil War. The monument was designed by R.H. Hunt of Chattanooga, TN and constructed at a of cost $32,000. 

The event is free and open to the public. 

(Article courtesy of The Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, October 2019 ed.)

 

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